Watch 2017 ESPYs Highlights: Peyton Manning Roasts Kevin Durant, And More
The 2017 ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) awards — dubbed by some as the Oscars of sports — were held at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Wednesday night, and featured several great moments.
2017 ESPYs Peyton Manning
First, former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning — who served as the ceremony’s host — began by poking fun at several famous athletes, most notably Kevin Durant, who won the NBA Finals MVP in June after leading the Golden State Warriors to their second national title in three years.
Manning noted how well the U.S. women’s gymnastics team performed at the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio, where they won a gold medal, then quipped: “Our gymnastics team was so dominant that Kevin Durant told me he wants to play for them next year.”
Several members of the audience members laughed and applauded at the two-time Super Bowl champion’s joke, though Durant did not seem to take it very well.
“I gotta tell you, I don’t think you’d start for that team, Kevin,” Manning added before turning to another NBA and the league’s reigning MVP: “Russell Westbrook, what do you think?” a phrase that drew groans from the crowd. Westbrook took home the Best Male Athlete Award.
Kevin Durant was not feeling this Peyton Manning joke AT ALL 😂 pic.twitter.com/kdXTr2gE1E
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) July 13, 2017
Durant still received some comfort, however, as the Warriors won the Best Team Award, which actor Samuel L. Jackson presented.
In the rest of his opening monologue, Manning took shots at dozens of other renown sports figures, including wrestler-turned-actor Jon Cena, the 2016 ESPYs host.
“Jon Cena is an athlete, the same way Ryan Lochte is a reliable witness,” the former Denver Broncos QB jested, referring to the American swimmer’s headline-grabbing lie about being held at gunpoint while competing during the Rio Olympics last summer.
Manning also mocked his brother Eli, Terrell Owens, the New York Knicks and the Atlanta Falcons.
“They’ll stop paying attention 3 quarters of the way into this show,” Manning said of the Falcons, who blew a huge lead to lose Super Bowl LI to the New England Patriots in February. “House Hunters International is on, let’s change to that,”
Manning then turned serious and congratulated the Chicago Cubs on their first World Series win in 108 years, and praised other teams and athletes who accomplished major feats this past year.
Among the other top moments was the appearance of longtime Cubs fan Bill Murray. The actor accepted the Best Moment award on behalf of the team while wearing a suit and the franchise’s hat, and quickly began celebrating by opening bottles of champagne.
“108 years of waiting is hardly a great moment,” he said, then ripping on all the great Cubs over the years who didn’t win the World Series.
— ESPN (@espn) July 13, 2017
Former Cubs catcher David Ross then performed a dance routine for the fans.
The Jimmy V Perseverance Award was given to Jarrius Robertson, a 15-year-old boy who is a major sports fan and who underwent 13 surgeries and two liver transplants. In his acceptance speech, Robertson promoted organ donation awareness and slipped in a few jokes.
Jarrius Robertson’s strength during 13 surgeries & 2 liver transplants earned him the Jimmy V Perseverance Award.https://t.co/arC6W2auWU
— ESPN (@espn) July 13, 2017
Other notable winners included legendary former Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vin Scully, who was given the Icon Award by actor Bryan Cranston, and the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who was presented with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award by former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Simone Biles won Best Female Athlete for her gold medal-winning performance at the Rio Olympics last summer.
There was also an In Memoriam segment dedicated to all sports figures who died during the last year, including Arnold Palmer, Jose Fernandez, Dennis Byrd, Dennis Green, Frank Deford, John Saunders and Craig Sager.
— ESPYS (@ESPYS) July 13, 2017
When the Patriots won the Best Game award, wide receiver Julian Edelman complimented Manning for his hosting performance, but then quickly added a joke about the former quarterback’s passing skills in indoor vs. outdoor stadiums.
“You know, I never really thought I’d say this, but Peyton Manning is kind of killing it,” said Edelman. “Yeah, we are indoors though.”
Yet the data doesn’t entirely support Edelman’s joke. Over his brilliant career, Manning threw 270 passing touchdowns in 136 outdoor games with a 64.6 completion percentage and 94.0 quarterback rating. He led the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos to 95 victories compared to only 41 losses outdoors. However, it’s just a harmless joke at an awards show, not an official player analysis, so it’s not too much of a big deal.
LOS ANGELES, CA – JULY 12: Host Peyton Manning speaks onstage at The 2017 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)